OTFC IIs vs Mickleham Old Boxhillians IIs
After a difficult cup match against reigning champions Old Wilsonians IVs the previous week exposed some weaknesses in the squad (namely, the ability to field 11 players for 90 minutes), the skipper took to the transfer market. After wheeling and dealing that would put ‘Arry Redknapp to shame, OTFC IIs took to the field with a full 14 man squad that included 3 new signings, some returning regulars, and a fresh contract for the perennial retirement candidate in goal.
This re-vamped side took a little time to gel, with Mickleham putting the team under some early pressure. Uncharacteristically, the team looked resilient and coped well, before starting to dominate in the middle of the pitch. This midfield dominance paid off when debutant central midfielder James capped a good move with a calm finish. James’s great start to OTFC life clearly went to his head however, as shortly after scoring, and with an easy pass on to an open striker, he instead tried an audacious half volley that while well hit, went straight into the keepers arms and earned the first fine of the day.
It wasn’t long before the midfield linked-up again, moving the ball around nicely on the right before a lovely ball into the box from marauding full back Andy D allowed Thommo to extend his impressive goal scoring start to the season. OTFC IIs went into the halftime break upbeat and confident with a 2-0 lead.
However, that confidence started to look misplaced in the early parts of the second half as Mickleham fought their way back into the game, and space started to open up for both teams. One Tiffs player was heard to remark ‘whoever scores next will probably go on to win’. Thankfully, that was OTFC after a pacey counter-attack, and that man James able to mark a golden debut with his second goal. Forced to push forward, Mickleham were caught again, with the delicate ankle of John Edwards able to stay strong enough to get him on the score sheet in his attempt to keep touch in the race for the golden boot. The third contender for this coveted award, Dave B, was nowhere to be seen with rumours swirling after the match that he is suffering from a sex-related rib injury.
At 4-0 Tiffs were cruising, with few moments of note. Ben L was responsible for the teams obligatory foul throw, Luke P reverted to type with a cynical kick out after being skinned by one of the opposition, and Ali H took 6 consecutive corners and managed to deliver a worse cross with each, until the sixth sailed straight off for a goal kick.
Sensing the possibility of the first league clean sheet of his illustrious OTFC career, veteran Danny W became visibly agitated as the game went on. Streams of expletives were hurled across the pitch at every small mistake, and at times the grinding of teeth was audible above the noise of the vocal home crowd (Attendance: 5). As the pressure increased, the usually calm skipper Dicky B cracked 35 minutes into the second half, signalling for a change. Sprinting to the sideline, he orchestrated a major reshuffle, robbing Jamie of the chance of a hat-trick by pushing him to Centre Back. A nervous wreck, Dicky spent the rest of the match slowly rocking at the side of the pitch, muttering under his breath.
With minds focusing on the mental health of their skipper, the remaining players struggled to adapt, and it wasn’t long before Mickleham took advantage, stealing two late goals to leave a scoreline that perhaps flattered them at 4-2. Even though Danny & Luke sat in the bar sporting facial expressions that would have been more fitting at a funeral, having seen a clean sheet slip through their grasp, the quality of performance across the team was excellent and the squad will be full of confidence for the next fixture. Credit to new signings Josh, Kuldeep and MOTM James. Only time will tell if Dicky’s transfer market activity has caused any financial problems for the club, with Chairman Nutty already fielding calls from HMRC, but for the short term at least, things look good for the IIs.